2023 is a bittersweet year for the iconic Audi TT. It’s no secret that the TT is on the way out, as the German automaker unveiled the 2022 TT RS Heritage Edition to celebrate the sports car’s last hurray in North America. However, it turns 25 in 2023th Audi TT birthday. Like the mythical but tragic members of rock ‘n’ roll’s 27 club (Alan Wilson, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and others), TT is too young to say goodbye. The question is, will his legacy continue?
From concept to production
The Audi TT gave buyers a fresh take on the brand with the four locking rings. Introduced as a concept in 1995 as a highly desirable 2+2 sports car, the first production TT rolled off the assembly line in 1998 with minor differences from the concept car that debuted three years earlier.
“For us, the biggest compliment was when the specialist press noted with appreciation that not much had changed from the study to the production model, although of course we had to adapt many details due to the technical specifications for the production version, including the proportions,” said Audi designer Torsten Wenzel. “Most notable was the integration of a rear side window, which lengthened the car’s profile and increased dynamics.”
Selling like hot cakes
The first-generation Audi TT rides on the VW Golf Mk IV, like the Audi A3, and comes with turbocharged four-cylinder and V6 engines. Audi introduced the TT Roadster in 1999 and sold over 90,000 TT convertibles by 2006 (Audi sold 178,765 Audi TT Coupes during the same time period). And while the second and third generation TTs didn’t enjoy the commercial success of their predecessor, they did open the door to new technology in the German automaker’s likeable sports car.
For example, the second-generation Audi TT Coupe and Roadster, which debuted in 2006 and 2007, used the architecture of the brand’s second-generation Audi A3. In addition, the new TT is available for the first time with optional adaptive dampers and magnetic suspension. In 2008, Audi debuted the TTS with a 268-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. The TT RS followed in 2009 with a 335 horsepower (355 horsepower in the TT RS Plus) 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbo engine under the hood.
Losing weight and adding technology
The third-generation TT, which debuted in 2014, emphasized shedding excess weight to improve handling and performance. As a result, Audi claims that the TT Coupe with the 2.0-liter TFSI engine and manual transmission is 110 lbs. (50 kilograms) lighter than before, tipping the scales at just 2,711 lbs. (1230 kilograms). In addition, the third-generation TT debuted with trademark Audi technology such as the brand’s virtual cockpit (digital instrument cluster) and organic LED lights, or OLED, features that later carried over to other Audi cars.
The third generation TT also featured more powerful engines. The top-of-the-line TTS with a 2.0-liter turbo engine had 305 horsepower, while the 2016 TT RS had a five-cylinder turbo unit with 394 horsepower.
Audi TT RS Heritage Edition
Before the curtain closes, Audi is offering the TT RS Heritage Edition to North American buyers. It inherits the powerful 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder from the 2016 variant, along with Quattro AWD and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
With the engine sending out 394 horsepower and 354 lb-ft. of torque to all four wheels, the legacy model sprints from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. Equipped with 20-inch wheels, a powerful exhaust, an Alcantara interior and heritage colors, it’s a fitting send-off for Audi’s sports car. Only 50 TT Heritage Edition models will arrive in the States, making it rarer than some exotic supercars.
There is a silver lining among the clouds. Audi made it clear in 2019 that the TT will likely return as an all-electric sports car (hopefully the same goes for the R8 GT). If true, we expect the TT moniker to have more birthdays in the coming decades.
Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog columnist and sports and performance car expert. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics and accounting in his younger years and is still very much in love with his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music and herbalism.
Photos and source: Audi of America.